• The Making of Oliver Cromwell

  • By: Ronald Hutton
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The first volume in a pioneering account of Oliver Cromwell - providing a major new interpretation of one of the greatest figures in history.

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) - the only English commoner to become the overall head of state - is one of the great figures of history, but his character was very complex. He was at once courageous and devout, devious and self-serving; as a parliamentarian, he was devoted to his cause; as a soldier, he was ruthless. Cromwell's speeches and writings surpass in quantity those of any other ruler of England before Victoria, and, for those seeking to understand him, he has usually been taken at his word.

In this remarkable new work, Ronald Hutton untangles the facts from the fiction. Cromwell, pursuing his devotion to God and cementing his Puritan support base, quickly transformed from obscure provincial to military victor. At the end of the first English Civil War, he was poised to take power. Hutton reveals a man who was both genuine in his faith and deliberate in his dishonesty - and uncovers the inner workings of the man who has puzzled biographers for centuries.

©2021 Ronald Hutton (P)2021 Tantor

What listeners say about The Making of Oliver Cromwell

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very specialized

As an American studying British history, I had to go to Wikipedia and YouTube over and over to grasp the wider topic and I still am unable to explain intelligibly what the English Civil Wars were all about and why they were important. In childish terms, I am still not sure who the good guys were. It will require yet another book on the topic I am afraid. But I know Oliver Cromwell as well as it is possible I guess.

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honest and balanced

a good breakdown on who Oliver Cromwell was. Is neither pro or anti Cromwell, just looking for the truth of the man

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Fascinating Review of Oliver Cromwell

I knew little to nothing about Cromwell or the English Civil War. This book filled my void. My one criticism is that this autobiography ended too early. What happened to Cromwell after the end of the Civil War to his death? What legacy did he leave to England. And how did Cromwell effect the disputation between Church and State in Western Culture to this day?

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Fascinating Explanation of Cromwell‘s Contradictions

Detailed and informative biography of Oliver Cromwell from his childhood through his army early Parliamentary career. Instead of the picking either of the usual sides, Cromwell was a freedom loving saint or he was a self aggrandizing, lying manipulator who wormed his way to power, the author presented a reasonable explanation of how he could be both. I would highly recommend this book.

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 09-20-21

With God in his side

In this first volume, Ronald Hutton has succeeded in writing a fresh new biography of Oliver Cromwell from his birth in 1599 up to the end of the first Civil War in 1646.

The most distinctive part of this scrupulously detailed yet accessible study is the succession of brief descriptions of the England in which the many battles and skirmishes were fought. These are not just the thumbnail sketches of their settings and distinctive features of towns and rivers, but more importantly the details of the passing seasons to be seen in the landscapes, birds, creatures and even the skies and stars. The cavalry races through hawthorn and cow parsley; the trees, turf and fields change colour and texture; swifts scream; the first bluebells and primroses carpet the woods. These descriptions form a visual backdrop contrasting with the savagery of the action, revealing the passing of time, and accentuating the Englishness of this hideous civil war. I loved them.

Also vivid are the frequent and moving details of the soldiers’ sufferings. Never mind dreadful injuries and deaths, there was terrible hunger and thirst as rations and money ran out with men eating roots and drinking from dark puddles, and there was the stench of blood, piss and sweat on the battlefields. No surprise that many turned tail and deserted. And then there were the slaughtered horses taken away from homesteads where failed or battle-ruined crops left families without food...

Creating a real England in which Cromwell’s astonishing career took place is a strength of this crisp biography. We see him in all his contradictions, strengths and in his iron uncompromising Puritan principles, guided by the God who in his view had saved him from death (as when his horse was killed from under him at Winceby) and blessed him with victory at Naseby. His intense religious zeal is a difficult concept for us today and a domestic comment in a letter to his newly married daughter Bridget illustrates just how imbued Cromwell’s mind was with his version of Protestantism. He wrote of his hope that marriage had inflamed Bridget’s love of Christ. Was it this particular devotion to his God which made him capable of gratuitous savagery (particularly in his treatment of defeated men)? He was certainly adept at outright lying and extreme self-seeking aggrandisement. Hutton shies away from none of these unappealing traits.

The battle scenes are presented with absolute clarity explaining succinctly the strategies and the actions in detail, enough to satisfy specialists in Civil War warfare as well as enabling non-specialists like me to understand – an achievement of the author!

Michael Page’s narration is appropriate and authoritative. The only misjudgement I would pick up is in the reading of dates which is presumably a matter of production. Currently dates in academic books are written as 23 January / 1 June etc but read out as “On twenty three January…” or “on one June…” rather than “on the twenty third of January” or “on the first of June..” is a serious annoyance to the listener – particularly as there of course hundreds of such dates throughout.

Perhaps someone could consider this for Volume Two? I'm looking forward to it!

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  • C. P. Lowe
  • 12-19-21

Subject that polarizes

Problem with Cromwell is that you can view him as a mean murderous religious zealot or a guy operating in the context of his time who at the end of the day brought parliamentary democracy to England - which was one hell of an achievement for an obscure bloke from East Anglia. I tend to lean slightly towards the latter. The author clearly strongly to the former. So it has an element of another Cromwell bashing tome about it. That said the performance is good and it is worth a listen. The only broadly balanced book either way that I have read on Cromwell is the Antonia Fraser one, and ironically she is a Jesuit.

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  • rightlemon
  • 04-13-22

Tough going

So this was my experience of this book.
It was read by an English person, but written by an American with American usage...and it grated!
There was little or no differentiation between chapters or headings....it just rolled over, so it was hard to know where you were.
There was a mass of detail about the minutiae of battles - some of which was fascinating but mostly tedious.
And there were some infrequent passages which were really absorbing and interesting.
BUT if I EVER come across another book or audio book with the dates described in the same way as this it goes straight in the bin...absolutely annoying to the point of anger!
Yes I learned a little but I do not recomend this title.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-10-22

Very Good

Hutton has a great style, I found the book most interesting when describing Cromwell's life off the battlefield.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-27-22

interesting but...

very stiff narration for me. Detail is amazing but I am not really the person for this level of historical detail of fighting forces but I appreciate it will suit some.

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  • M W Gibbs
  • 02-15-22

Everything a history book should be

As a non-historian who realised I know very little about the Civil War and only the bare bones of the biography of Oliver Cromwell - largely shaped by Ricard Harris’s magnificent performance in the film - this book was a very enjoyable revelation. It has the added benefit for the non-historian of always placing the events and characters into the context of Britain at that time.

Professor Hutton paints a picture of Cromwell’s early and unremarkable beginnings up to the point where he becomes one of the dominant figures of the Parliamentarian army and politics. But this is no hagiography because he genuinely paints Cromwell “warts and all”.

Like all good books this volume has a cliffhanger ending even if we do know what happens next. Being a reader of a certain age I just hope that it’s not too long before Professor Hutton publishes the next volume.

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  • Dirk Daring
  • 01-10-22

Extremely informative and exciting

From only knowing of Cromwell in a film adaptation of the English civil war, it was great to find out how it all started and his role in it. The final battles were excellently read as to build up the excitement and drama.
Well worth a listen, one can only imagine how much work these writers and historians put in for our enjoyment.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-16-22

Excellent study of the rise of Cromwell

This is an excellent serious study of the rise to power of Oliver Cromwell. My only complaint is that Michael Page reads it much too quickly. A reader needs needs pauses from time to time to reflect on the reasonably complicated events being related. It’s also essential to pause at the end of chapters and sections. Michael does neither and this detracted from my enjoyment of an extremely interesting book.